The Best Patio Dining in Seattle
Come warm summer weather, we take every opportunity to sup on the sidewalk or sip wine on an umbrellaed patio. Plan your alfresco dining around these knockout views, waterfront seats, hidden tables under the stars and new patios with vibrant cocktail scenes—and fire pits to keep the chill off.
Brimmer & Heeltap [SECRET GARDEN] Why here: An already popular neighborhood hangout, Brimmer & Heeltap is upping its summertime cool factor with the expansion of the garden hideaway that flanks the restaurant. A fiberglass-canopied patio will add 10–15 seats outdoors (there were already a few tables); there’s a promise of a fire pit; and owner Jen Doak has revamped a shed in back to include a roll-up garage door and its own bar for private parties (groups of 15-20) and overflow on busy nights. Eat: The prawn cocktail is big enough to share or small enough to devour on your own. Drink: It’s a drink! It’s a dish! It’s the pickled oyster shooter with cucumber, lime and gin! 425 NW Market St.; 206.420.2534; brimmerandheeltap.com
La Isla [PUERTO RICAN] Pull up a stool in the snug space under the storefront’s awning and watch Ballardites meander down Market Street while you munch on a plate of empanadillas, those tasty, tiny meat turnovers. Rum fans have plenty to cheer here, including craft cocktails and a salad dressed in a boozy vinaigrette. Set your watch to island time and order the ropa vieja, the shredded skirt steak sauced in spicy adobo. Finish up with a piece of tres leches cake. Lunch and dinner daily. 2320 NW Market St.; 206.789.0516; laislaseattle.com
Ray’s Café [SEAFOOD] Why here: Ray’s Café (above Ray’s Boathouse) is an iconic, only-in-Seattle experience, especially the deck, where the jagged Olympic Mountains and lapping waters of Puget Sound create an unforgettable backdrop for dinner alfresco. Eat: Start with the outstanding smoked salmon skewers and splurge on king crab legs with drawn butter.
Drink: The Bloody Mary here is terrific: spicy, strong and packed with veggies. It’s an ideal match for most of the seafood.
Insider tip: If you don’t have reservations, expect to wait Lunch and dinner daily. 6049 Seaview Ave. NW; 206.782.0094; rays.com
Walrus and the Carpenter [OYSTERS] [HIDDEN PATIO] It’s easy to feel cool when dining at The Walrus and the Carpenter, a haven for foodies in the know. The much-celebrated (and small) restaurant offers outdoor communal seating at picnic tables adjacent to the back parking lot. Far from feeling gritty, the small patio with wood picnic tables has an urban industrial atmosphere, with its location adjacent to the back parking lot and overlooking the many commercial shipping operations just off Salmon Bay. With heat lamps overhead, this patio is a sure bet in any weather. Ballard, 4743 Ballard Ave. NW; 206.395.9227; thewalrusbar.com
Percy’s & Co. [PUB] This cocktail lounge on Ballard Ave is visually impressive already, but the covered patio out back is something to experience, too. What can only be described as a cross between a porch and a greenhouse, the wooden back perch is filled with hanging ferns and other green foliage. The patio is heated, and wool blankets conveniently hang from hooks at each of the six communal wooden picnic tables, which are made comfortable with olive-colored cushions. Ceiling fans and a roll-up garage door should keep the patio from becoming too hot when the sun comes out to play. Ballard, 5233 Ballard Ave. NW; 206.420.3750; percysseattle.com
Bastille Café & Bar [FRENCH] [COVERED PATIO] At this Parisian-style bistro, wooden tables are nestled under a clear ceiling that allows in light, but holds back occasional summer sprinkles. With a fireplace on the terrace, heaters and sliding transparent-panel “walls” that open and close at the ready, Bastille is a sure bet anytime of the year for its traditional French cuisine and its focus on Northwest ingredients. Ballard, 5307 Ballard Ave. NW; 206.453.5014; bastilleseattle.com
Boat Street Cafe [NORTHWEST] There’s something magical about Boat Street’s sweet urban hideaway, located down an unlikely ramp and tucked into the courtyard of a warehouse space. Sitting under strings of white lights with the fragrance of potted herbs wafting around you, it’s hard to resist lingering over Champagne and buttery slivers of asparagus tart. Brunch and lunch daily, dinner Tue.–Sun. 3131 Western Ave.; 206.632.4602; boatstreetcafe.com
Pintxo [HIDDEN PATIO] [TAPAS] Even folks who have lived in Seattle all their lives don’t realize this tiny tapas restaurant has a charming, New York–style exposed brick hideaway sandwiched in between two brick buildings. The result is an adorable, absolutely utopian slice of Belltown real estate that is the highlight of any evening. The best time to come is at dusk, when the party lights turn on and the tensions of the day turn off. The sherry cocktails and Spanish wine list help, too. Belltown, 2207 Second Ave.; 206.441.4042; pintxoseattle.com
520 Bar and Grill [AMERICAN] [GARDEN PATIO] The patio out back is popular when the weather is gloomy, but once the sun pops, so do the huge umbrellas at this popular Main Street destination. The outside area is lined with hedges and a trellis to keep it a truly private section of the traditionally busy restaurant. The white-linen-draped tables, which seat as many as 50 sun lovers, beckon customers outside, but if you just want a little nosh while you watch the game (there is a flat-screen TV outside), order one of the signature cocktails, such as the cucumber cooler, and a chicken Caesar salad, and be grateful that the only traffic you’ll encounter here is a surge of folks getting off work to soak up some rays. Bellevue, 10146 Main St.; 425.450.0520; 520barandgrill.com
Scotty Browns [AMERICAN] [SIDEWALK PATIO] If there was ever a perfect location for a sleek, modern outdoor patio, it’s in the interstitial spaces of downtown Bellevue populated by the well-heeled workers of the Eastside. That’s where you’ll find Scotty Browns—in a hidden-gem urban enclave rubbing elbows (bent with drink in hand) with the likes of The Bravern, Bellevue Square and various Microsoft towers. It’s a prime locale for dining al fresco on your lunch break or grabbing a cocktail after work. Take a seat on one of the beckoning leather couches that surround blazing fire pits (when it’s chilly) or curl up in one of the colorful orange chairs that, along with pretty potted green shrubbery, add a splash of color to an otherwise masculine décor that is equal parts urban and rural, and 100-percent inviting on a sunny day. Bellevue, 958 111th Ave. N.E.; 425.449.8869; brownsrestaurantgroup.com